April 30, 2013
These past few weeks, my music class and I worked on a koto piece by Hiroshi Moshimura.
Process of preparation
We did not play the last movement as it was too hard and we didn’t have enough time to practice it. However, I believe if we played the last movement, it would have been a better piece, as personally the ending of the third movement was not very concluding. Also, most of the time, I didn’t put tape on my fingers so right not at this moment my fingers are messed up because of my blisters. Even though it looks ugly and they hurt, it would make my hands more calloused so I would be able to pluck with more easy in the future. I pretty much prepared this piece similarly to how I would prepare any other unknown piece, however, just speeded up. We needed to learn it the most fastest as our concert was the closest it ever was.
What were the challenges Alma presented and how did you overcome them?
The main challenges of Alma was that it was really hard to count. Even though the notes and the melody was easy, as it was minimalistic it was hard to count and change the notes. This was more hard when the first koto played with my koto part as they had a different rhythm all together. I overcame this problem by first memorizing my piece and then practicing until I really understood it. I also practiced counting in my head as well which helped a lot. At the beginning, we also counted out loud to help us understand what our piece was supposed to sound like without any mistakes. Another problem I faced was with the third movement, as the rhythm was kind of hard, as we got confused by the first koto. All I had to do to overcome this problem, was play the beats in my head and with my body. The last main problem was memorizing the first movement, as all the minimalistic patters were so similar and the movement was the longest. All I did was try to play it without the score even if I still didn’t quite memories it so the patterns would drill into my head.
What could have been better?
The dynamics was the main problem in our piece. We also could have accented the main notes better. We didn’t play any dynamics making our piece boring. The no dynamics also made us have no determination to play, so this made the whole piece even more boring. The last thing that we could have improved was that are whole piece was to quiet, so nobody could hear it.
What was good – what did you get out of it.
The main good thing about our performance was that I was able to think in my head while play. This will help me be more head-hand coordinated. This would help me for music and for sports. This piece also made me more determined and not distracted as I leaned to only think about my part even if another part was playing. Usually, I need to listen to the other koto, but this piece made me learn to be less distracted.
Did you like the whole thing? Why?
I liked the whole thing because it was different to the koto music we would usually play. It was cool as no tsume were needed so I didn’t need to bring them as well.
April 8, 2013
Before spring brake, my music class played a koto piece, “Rock Garden,” by Hikaru Sawai for a concert. I have some questions that I will answer.
What were the challenges Rock Garden presented and how did you overcome them?
The main challenge about Rock Garden was that the performance would not be good if there was no emotion in the piece. Putting emotion in our piece was extremely difficult because in an ensemble it is hard to create emotion. Also, as there were no words, it was hard to understand what the piece was about. I overcame this challenge by playing any emotion I felt at that moment and tried to convey it in the piece. I overcame it also by looking at the different meters of the piece which helped me understand what the piece was trying to do and say, which also helped me with the emotion of the piece. Another problem we had was the tempo. In the recording, the tempo was really fast and it was hard to live up to its standards. This made the rhythm all strange, making the piece a bit confusing. Also, the tempo also always slowed down during the middle making the piece boring, because we were so tired. We tired to overcome this problem by slowing down the tempo generally and by forcing not to be tired and to use dynamics to overlook the problem that we were slowing down. Another problem was the dynamics. It was really hard to focus of the notes and the dynamics at the same time. Without the dynamics the whole piece would be boring and have no emotion. To overcome this problem, I wrote down the dynamics in the score so whenever I looked at it, I could memorize the dynamics.
What did you learn about the process of approaching a new piece of music with the final goal of performance in mind?
I learned that the best way to learn a piece of music thoroughly is to train through it many times, even though you don’t know the notes at all and only play through it by looking at the score. This makes me remember the melody more. Then, I try to train through the piece without the score so that even if I get it wrong, this would just help me memorize the melody more. After the memorization of the melody, I would then memorize the dynamics, by writing the dynamics in the score and also to listen to what my peers were playing. Then I worked on the emotion of the piece and the speed. This process really sped up learning a new piece of music. Usually, we learn a piece for much longer before a concert. This made me a lot more relaxed than before.
What different “stages” did you go through individually and as a group in the rehearsal process leading up to the performance?
Pretty much, I just did my process in the last question. Also for practice, I worked with my group in the Monday morning rehearsals, and the group did the same process as I did in the last question. We also did the same process during the Tuesday and Friday classes.
Did the experience change you in any way?
The thing that changed my the most about the play was that I grew more confidant in my koto playing. This was because usually my koto part is much more bigger than this piece and usually I am not in the front of the stage when I play. In this piece Joi was only with me in my part and also I was in the front of the stage. Also, we walked on in the middle of the piece, so when we started to play all the audiences focus should have been on us. This made it almost like a little solo. It also changed me as a koto player as I realized the best way to look at new piece and also showed my that a koto piece could be good even if it is easy with perfect and almost minimalistic harmony using dynamics and different meters in the whole structure of the piece. However, as I played in concerts and played new pieces a lot before, I understood the whole idea of the point of it.
How do you think the experience might be of benefit to you in the future?
I think the most this experience could help me in my future is how to work with a group nicely and most efficiently, as I personally think it was the quickest time we learned a new piece. It also helped me work with a partner nicely and most efficiently, as for my koto part I was only Joi and I.
April 5, 2013
March 31, 2013
A few weeks ago, my drama class finished our IGCSE monologues after a few months preparing. My monologue was from the play ‘Dogface’ by Kellie Powell and I was playing the character ‘Dogface’ contemplating on how she got her nickname. I was very pleased with my monologue, and it was very helpful for Neil, from Nose to Nose, to help. These are the questions about the monologue.
1) How did I approach the performance? What process did I take?
The first thing I did for my monologue was to read my play, “Dogface.” Reading the play was important for me even though my monologue was from Act one Scene one as I understood the character much more. I understood her relationships with people and her personality. After I read the play, I got the monologue and looked for the units of action. This really helped me as I understood what Dogface felt at a certain line or beat in the monologue which helped me understand my movements, facial expressions and how I should say a certain line: fast or slow, loud or fast, looking at the audience or in my own mind. Then, I looked at my movements based on my beats of action as well as looking at Stanislavski’s techniques: “Who am I?” “What time is it?” “Where am I?” “What surrounds me?” “What are my given circumstances?” “What are my relationships?” “What is my overall objective in life ?” “What are my obstacles?” and finally “What is my motivation in my monologue.” Using this I further explored my character. For example: my unsteady relationship with my father, my brave and happy outlook on life, and how my overall objective is to be loved. Using this, I decided to wear bright and colorful clothes to show my positive outlook. This helped me become the character before and during the monologue. Also figuring out what, when, and where I was helped. For example, I placed my monologue in the autumn so I wore warmer clothes but no coats. Also, figuring out that I am in my room for the monologue helped me understand how the character is completely at home and herself. This is the same with time, and as I placed my monologue in the evening, my character is calm and not rushed as her day is almost over. Dogface’s motivation in her monologue is to get the weight of her past off of her shoulders and to tell the audience that she is still alive and fine even with all her trauma. Then, Neil from Nose to Nose came and helped me a lot with my monologue giving my class advice and techniques to use. His main motivation was to make us interesting when we act. In his workshop we realized that to be interesting we need to be completely and utterly in character and have to act full out. Also, to have an interesting character actors need to focus on their character and be different from the audience in someway so that the audience is curious about the character. Another thing that perks the audience’s interest is to have eye contact with the audience and to change the way you talk: fast to slow, loud to soft, high to low, etc. To work on this, one of Neil’s exercises was to have two actors saying their monologues together and to try to make the audience look at them rather than the other actor. This was really hard and made us really go to our limit in acting, and we also got some tips from other actors we saw to make ours better. One activity I did was say “I really like dogs” so that the audience truly believes it. At first I was unsuccessful until Neil said someone would shoot me if I don’t make the audience believe. This really scared me, and I actually believed Alec would shoot me, and not surprisingly, my “I really like dogs” was very believable as I truly believed my life would depend upon it. This increased my focus and also, I made the audience wait a really long time before I said anything as I was scared I would get it wrong. This really helped me as I understood I had to physically and mentally believe all of my character’s given circumstances to make my monologue successful. After this, I performed my monologue to Neil and Mr. Mieklejohn. They gave me useful comments about how I should only move when absolutely necessary as it distracts the audience from the actual character when they do move. Thinking about this, they told me to say my monologue standing quite still. This, I believe was a lot more effective as I felt more natural and in character as people normally do not move around. I also noticed that my character was slightly nervous talking about what happened so using this information, I recollected and used things that I did myself when I was nervous, such as changing the weight of my feet, and stretching. I also looked at how my character’s focus changes with half the time going off in daydreams and being depressed when she remembers her story and the other half she’s joking with the audience about her story. I thought about giant moments in my life and recalled my facial expression at the time, so that I could be more believable as a person. Dogface actually really likes dogs, so I used that knowledge in my piece so when I thought about the dog I could smile and show that it really was not the dog’s fault. Finally, I decided to stand then sit with slight motions of the feet and hands to add to my story. I also tried to use my hands to tell the story so that they would not go into an unnatural rhythm. On my performance day, like what Stanislavski said, I wore Dogface’s bright clothes the entire day, so when my time came, I could be even more in character, and this technique definitely helped.
2) What dramatic techniques/elements did I use and how did I use them in my performance?
I used lots of elements, however, I did not use many dramatic techniques in my performance. However, I think it would have been very useful if I used techniques like hot seating and conscience alley to further explore my character and see what other people think about her. However, finding the units of actions was similar to the techniques like marking the moment, paraphrasing, thought tracking etc. In my monologue I used irony to create a tense yet almost humorous monologue, as Dogface laughs about what happened yet what happened is very dark and traumatizing. Irony is used again to create a tense mood as my face is not mutilated, showing that truly I am just a normal person. In my monologue I used the element of focus. This element was interesting to use as half the time my focus was on the audience as I break the fourth wall so that my focus was on them. This made the audience focused on the piece as I was focusing on them telling my story. I made sure when I performed it in front of my peers that I looked at everyone, and I made sure that I looked at the camera during the actual filming. However, at some points, when I truly get depressed about my memories, I look away and focus on a spot in the distance reminiscing. This also made the audience focus on my piece as it was different from my focus before, and the focus created a tense mood as the audience realizes that I am actually talking about a tragedy even when I try to make light of the situation. The focus reminiscing also made me think about what happened so I could convey my change from nonchalant to depressed which could be seen on my face. This is like Stanislavski’s system. Another element I used was tension. I used mystery tension very slightly in the beginning when I was staring off in the distance not looking at the audience, standing, when clearly there is a seat, making the audience believe why am I like this. Also the very first line is, “This is how it happens” which uses the unknown as the audience is waiting in anticipation to know what happened. Another type of tension I used was relationships. This was interesting as I used my unstable relationship with my father to create tension. The audience realizes that I probably never see him as my parents were divorced and also the line “My mom calls my father” highlights this as ‘mom’ is causal where ‘father’ is not. I also liked saying the whole paragraph of how my father couldn’t really look at me as it shows that Dogface actually does want her father’s love. I truly think her father is Dogface’s downfall as throughout the whole piece I made Dogface only truly uncomfortable when talking about her father even with all her talk about trauma. Also there is some tension with her brother as she never really mentions his name, suggesting that she is not that close with him. Another relationship tension is with her mother. I really like this relationship as the audience can tell they have the best relationship, yet the line “she gasped in horror and covers your brothers eyes” really shows that there is still conflict in their relationship. The last relationship tension is between Dogface and the dog. This relationship is the most interesting as the audience knows that I really love dogs, and I love that one dog, yet it basically ended my life, creating a forbidden relationship and everyone loves being intrigued by forbidden relationships. The audience can tell I love dogs from the smile I always seem to get when I think about that dog and the most interesting line in the entire piece, “I didn’t want them to kill it,” which concludes my monologue. I also used unexpected surprise tension as at first it seems like I am just telling a simple story of my life, yet suddenly I say “the dog snaps his jaws,” making the audience surprised by the sudden change in mood and meaning to my monologue. The fact that my face is not mutilated creates a bigger surprise. The last tension I used was task tension. This was used throughout the entire piece as the task she had to go through was incredibly hard, yet she did it, and she conquered it, and she is very brave for surviving for so long.
3) What are the strengths and weaknesses in my own performance?
My main weakness in my own performance, I believe, was that I didn’t know what to do with my hands. I knew what to do with the whole of my body, as the character, except for my hands. It seemed that they had a mind of their own when I was nervous. They always went into a pattern of on the table, on my lap, on the table etc. This was not part of my character, and it distracted the audience from my monologue, and it also lost my focus of the piece. To help me, Neil told me to tell the story with my hands, so that when I did it one time, I moved my hands animatedly, yet tried to do it subconsciously. Another weakness I had was that, even though I memorized my lines, I still forgot some of them during my piece mostly because of nerves. This made me leave Dogface and go back to myself, which lost my focus and also, the switch to myself could have been seen on my face to the audience. However, I hope that my scared face of “where is my line,” could be mistaken for Dogface’s scared face of her traumatic event. Another problem I had was that my performance was longer than five minutes. As I had to shorten it for my IGCSE, when I was doing my monologue I still felt pressure instead of completely being Dogface. Even though I believed my movement was good as it focused the audience only on my facial expressions and story, I still believed a bit more movement could have been interesting for the audience rather than only standing then sitting. Maybe after sitting, I could have moved and sat on the chair, however, that would have lost the effect of having there be a chair yet I sat on the table to show my carefree and young personality.
The strength in my performance was that I actually memorized all of my lines rather than winging part of it. I knew many people who didn’t memorize their lines. This really gave me less pressure so that I could be completely Dogface, and also it made me able to focus on exploring my character rather than focusing on winging it, during practices, yet also performing. Another success was that I really understood my character’s given circumstances. This helped me a lot in actually becoming my character rather than being myself, and it helped me with my facial expressions as I knew what and why Dogface was feeling at that line or that pause. The lack in my movement also strengthened these facial expressions.
4) Was my performance successful? Why or why not?
I thought my performance was successful because I thought I created a tense atmosphere for my audience as I played with both humour and tragedy at the same time in my piece.
5) What could I do to further improve my artistic process?
I figured out the units of action and my blocking really late into my performance. This created pressure and for the practicing I was not in my character, and I was myself trying to find what I should do. This lost me time for practicing in my character. If I could have used that time, I believe I could further improve my character. Also, even if I practiced my monologue with Mr. Mieklejohn and Neil, I probably should have shown them again so that they could have further helped me.
Mr. Mieklejohn told my class that we should look at another’s person’s monologue. I decided to look at Walter’s monologue. His monologue is from the play The Simple Truth by Michael Gurr and he played that character of the police officer Hirst interrogating Sarah. I will answer this question:
6) What dramatic techniques/elements did they use to make the performance successful
In Walter’s piece he used all four types of tension. He used mystery tension as Hirst still doesn’t know what/why Sarah came to confess about, and because he doesn’t know he has to interrogate. He also used hard/dangerous task tension as interrogating is hard and also Sarah came to him distressed ready to confess so she could be dangerous and they are only two people in the same room. Unexpected surprise tension was also used as it is a very serious interrogation yet Hirst still talks about water and coffee. This also created comedy and irony which made the audience much more interested and focused on the performance. Relationship tension was also used as he is alone in a room interrogating someone which causes conflict. The fact that he never looks at her in the beginning and then his eyes suddenly flick towards her, further creates mystery to their relationship. This shows that he is nervous as he is fiddling with tape yet he is an interrogating police officer which creates humour and irony as it breaks the stereotype of police officers. Also it gives the audience a better understanding of their relationship. Another main element of drama that Walter used was focus. Walter had so much focus on fiddling with the tape, the audience was drawn into the performance as they didn’t understand why a piece of tape could be so interesting and also drew them in as it broke the police officer stereotype. Walter’s focus towards Sarah, his eyes flicking to her place, really made the audience believe that Sarah was really there, creating a more believable scene and character.
March 31, 2013
1. As a director, in scene 13 how would you stage the changes in emotional beat, dialogue
and interaction between the characters in order to engage the audience’s interest and create a particular atmosphere? In your answer, make specific references to lines 841-909 particularly regarding roles and relationships.
Scene 13 is full of emotional possibilities due to its setting, which is a funeral. Lines 868 to 880, has a very happy and light mood as old friends are greeting each other. This can be shown with animated and chatty voices and everyone should be looking at each other so the audience gets the feeling that everyones involved as the focus is the same for each person. Also, everyone should be greeted in almost a circle to show how in greetings and happiness, everyone is equal, hinting back, yet also being opposite, to the theme of political superiority in the play. The audience would also have a feeling of dread, however, as everyone is looking everywhere except towards the coffin, making the coffin at the background stand out more than ever. This looming dark symbol of death in the background will create a sinister mood along with all the happiness. After the greetings, line 881, there is a huge mood shift, when people are consoling Fernandez. I would like to have everyone look at the coffin for a long time as a transition of happy to dark so that the audience’s focus is on the coffin and the symbolism it brings. I would have everyone slow down and talk lower to show this mood more and also have everyone move towards Fernandez and surround him to try and comfort him, while his head is down and while his body is tensed up. First I would look at the personality and status of the characters, so that when they interact, those traits would be shown. For example, Sarah doesn’t really know anyone except for Fernandez so her greetings should be more formal with Chye and the other Singaporeans as she is only a visitor. When she greets Fernandez, however, she should be more casual and relieved as he is someone she knows well in a new world, also, she can hug him to comfort him. Also, Chye should be more superior when greeting people because of his political status, but he should also be awkward as he is going to a funeral for the opposite political side. This separation can be shown if Fernandez is slightly left out of the group on stage. There will be a separation between Fernandez and the other characters as he is the only one who went to prison, and he is also a ‘communist’. The fact that Fernandez and Chye are separated would highlight the theme of how politics divides people according to their beliefs. When Chye greets Hua, however, he should genuinely hug her to show his love for his sister. Chye’s and Ferdandez should have a very awkward greeting. They could decide if they should hug or just handshake until they just handshake to further show how politics could separate good friends. This type of awkward greeting should be the same with Hua and Fernandez, line 875, as it is looking back on their interesting past of love and betrayal. These greetings really intrigue the audience as it is looking at conflict in relationship tension.
2. As an actor, how would you portray the part of FERNANDEZ in lines 242-263 to bring out at least two different aspects of his character? You would not only need to consider vocal expression and physicality, but attitude and motivation.
In lines 242-263, Fernandez has a monologue about his feelings towards Hua. In this monologue, he is writing a letter, so I would have him sit in a chair while writing the letter on a desk. Throughout the speech, Fernandez exposes a variety of personality traits. At first he is very affectionate with Hua, as he truly does love her. Using this, I would express my first lines very softly, calm and slow, showing I am at peace because I love her so much. I should look up and pause many times, to show I’m thinking about her a lot, and I should also smile when I do this and when I write to show how much happiness I feel when I think about her. Also I should write freely and softly, showing I believe and know what I want to write. This would show Fernandez’s sense of peace with his love towards her, but also his vulnerability. Then, in line 245, Fernandez writes about how rejected and betrayed he feels that Hua did not choose him and chose another person. Using this I would be more bitter and harsh with my words and make my words choppy to show my anger and sadness. I would get very stiff and write very hard and fast to show how rejected I feel. This shows his unstable and almost dangerous personality, but in line 248, Fernandez’s motivation is to forget Hua, so to do this, I would look up from my letter and stare at no space in particular, being harsh but saying my lines more slowly and in control showing my determination. From line 251, Fernandez is back to loving Hua, yet with his outburst of anger towards her, he is more sad as he realises he still loves her even with his determination. I would make my words slow yet defeated, by making my words very breathy and my body slouched. Also as he is confused about the way he feels about her, I would make myself physically cross off lines in the letter and stop to think, however without the smiles like before. In the last line, Fernandez is talking about Chye, Hua’s brother. He truly likes him as they were great friends, however, their differences in politics made them drift apart. Because of this, I would make Fernandez get angry like before: stiff and choppy. I would also be very determined as I realise the reason I am in jail thanks to Chye’s politics. At the end of the letter I should make a very definite full stop to show my attitude of determination and resentment. I would then look at the letter with hatred as Fernandez really hates the letter as it shows his weakness about Hua, then slowly fold it up to show he is still calm and determined. His motivation is to send the letter, despite his weakness.
February 20, 2013
Throughout this blog I will answer these two questions as well as more:
What approach did you take to the staging of your devised piece based on your chosen stimulus? Consider the elements of place and space
Identify two important dramatic moments in your piece based on your chosen stimulus. What made them effective?
For part of our IGCSE drama grade, we had to split up into two groups and devise a piece. The stimulus for our piece was “issue of conscience,” and we used this to explore the disease of schizophrenia, while hinting at the subtle theme of how humans let their worst parts of themselves consume them, so that they will never find the good parts inside of them. Throughout the piece we had one character and the seven deadly sins that are a part of her. By doing this, there is only one character in the entire piece, so that the audience is only focusing on that character, which strengthens the theme of schizophrenia and how people only see the bad parts about themselves. The sins wore back tee-shirts and black pants as their costumes, while the girl wore colorful clothes. This contrast in clothing strengthens how the sins are a part of her, and it also symbolizes that she does have goodness in her, yet she doesn’t see it with the darkness surrounding her caused by the sins. We also used a bit of irony as our stimulus was “issue of conscience” and the play is set in her subconscience. We used pride, lust, gluttony, sloth, and wrath as the sins and we did not include envy or greed as these were similar to gluttony and lust. Also, the fact that the character only thinks about some of her sins is more realistic as people only look at their most prominent sins rather than every sin. The fact that the girl doesn’t have a name shows that the girl could be anyone, strengthening that the sins are in everyone.
The piece starts off with the girl sitting in the middle of the stage with a black board in front of her, covered in white cloths. She is sitting down centre stage to show how she is the most important focus of the piece. She opens up a music box with a ballerina inside and music starts to play. She is completely emotionless. Then the sins come out and look and surround her almost like she’s their prey. Suddenly they close the box, stopping the music completely. The sins are wearing masks that represent their sin. The girl still stares out into the audience. Then the sins leave, leaving the girl staring out into the audience like before. Suddenly, there is a loud bang, and hands come out from the white clothed board, the lights change to have a reddish tinge, the hands leave but the red lights are still there. Again, just like before, the hands come back out with the loud bang but this time the girl stands up and walks backward taking the box with her. The box drags her into the black board. This whole scene uses mystery tension as the audience has no idea what is going on. There is also surprise tension as the audience doesn’t think that the sins will wear masks. There is also unexpected surprise tension when the hands come out as the audience believes that the sins left her and the piece will go on into the next scene. There is even more unexpected surprise tension when the hands come out again as they just did that. The first time the hands come out, there is a redish tinge to the lighting. When they pull back, the red is still there, causing an unnervy mood as the audience precludes that there are still unusual occurances possible.The music box and the music symbolize her desperate need to cling onto her childhood as when people are children, they are completely innocent to the darkness in the world. The fact that the sins close the box symbolize that they won as they stopped the box from having its purpose which is playing music. The music playing is also not completely flowing and stops a lot, symbolizing even more her desperate grasp onto innocence is weakening. The music box also represents reality as it is the prop that is used in the scene and is usable and is actually physically there unlike the sins. This strengthens the theme of schizophrenia as when the sins close the box they are forcing her to leave reality. The fact that she takes the box into the board however, shows that there is still hope for her to come back to innocence and reality. Throughout this whole scene, the sins are trying to drag her down and take her, until they finally succeed. This can be easily seen when the hands come out for the second time as the first time they didn’t get their prey. This leaves the audience in a somber and creepy mood as they realize that the sins have a mind for themselves and are not just part of her. The board placed center, upstage, represents hell as the sins come from behind it. The fact that the white sheets are covering it, so that the entry and exits are unknown, strengthens the mystery tension. The white sheets also create a contrast to what is happening as they stereotypically represent innocence. However, in this piece, they represent her subconscious. The music also contrasts to what is happening creating a very unnerving mood. The fact that she is expressionless also strengthens the fact that everything is in her subconscious. The use of space, in which a triangle is created as the sins converge toward the girl, produces the effect that all are one, from the very beginning. The convergence also symbolizes that sins come out from everywhere and are in everyone.
The second scene starts off with the girl walking in and sitting down on a bench. The board in the background starts to shake symbolizing that the sins are coming out of hell to get her. Suddenly the sins do come and go into their designated places. This scene uses space as well as some people are lying down, some people are sitting while other people are standing. This creates unknown tension as the audience remembers what happened in scene one, but the the characters are acting as if it didn’t happen, creating apprehension for what is to come. This makes the audience believe that maybe the characters aren’t the sins, making them relieved, as they are also not wearing masks. However, when the sin’s monologues start, the audience is abruptly brought back to reality as the monologues are the exact reflection of the sins. These monologues are also similar to the rehearsal technique of thought-tracking. The monologues also reflect what the girl is thinking. This is strengthened as she is the only one who is emotionless and not saying a monologue. The monologues are abruptly stopped by the girl who says, “When does the bus come?” with one of the sins replying, “Why don’t you go check?” She leaves and the sins are left in their poses waiting for her. This is an example of a dramatic monologue. It is effective as this sudden switch in noise on the stage creates an unnerving mood. The reason why the sins stopped talking is because the girl is not there, so they cannot feed off of her. This also strengthens the meaning behind the ‘bus’ as the sins can’t affect her when regarding the bus. The line also places the scene in a bus stop. The bus symbolizes her need to leave the sins behind and have a new life, while the bus stop symbolizes how she is waiting for her chance to leave. She needs to wait for “2 minutes.” Throughout the scene, the audience sees that the girl is trying to lose the grip the sins have on her, as she keeps mentioning her friend or her job, but the sins try to keep her as theirs. The sins use the dramatic technique of chanting when they force her to believe that she doesn’t have a job, which strengthens the unnerving mood of the whole scene. This chanting is another example of a dramatic movement, and it is effective as it creates the unnerving mood using space. The more the sins chant, the more they rise from the floor, symbolizing their increasing power over the girl. Also, the chanting gets louder and more frantic, making the audience also feel this way. We also use a dramatic technique of captioning, when the sins hold up a sign stating “6.2% of people are jobless.” This is a clear thought that she has, and it also refers to the theme where people think badly about themselves. First she doesn’t believe she has any friends; then she doesn’t believe she has a job even if she has those things. After the captioning, the scene starts again with the monologues and the girl repeats, “When does the bus come?” This cycle clearly shows that the whole process is starting again which reflects the subconscious of people. The audience then realizes that 2 minutes was probably already up so the bus should have come, showing that time has stopped which strengthens that everything is in her head. The girl leaves to check the time again for the second time, however does not come back. Then ticking noises start and the sins get agitated and soon get so frantic that they fall down. The girl comes back and says “One minute.” This clearly shows that the sins are losing their hold of her just like before when she talked about her job. The fact that she said “one minute” conveys that she is starting to get a grip on reality as time is progressing when it didn’t before. Just as before, the sins gain control again by standing up and forcing the girl to believe that it is “2 minutes” by walking around her very fast clockwise, reflecting a clock. This is similar to the conscience alley as we are her conscience and are yelling at why she can’t read the time. After she believes that it is two minutes the sins hold the signs “She can’t read the time,” having the same affect like before however having the sign go around her head reflecting a clock. The sins realize that their hold on the girl is becoming weaker so they all clump around her. When they do this the audience clearly sees that the sins are a part of her as whenever she looks at one of the sins she gets that trait of them. The girl then leaps up and states, “The bus is here!” Because of this, the sins leave, making the audience believe that she did break away from them, finally. The music starts to play again hinting that she did escape and go back to reality as she is starting to dance like the ballerina from the music box. However, like before they are wrong. The sins, one by one come out with their masks on showing that they are even more powerful then before. They all go to their positions showing off their trait. For example, wrath kicks the bench and pride stands on the bench showing that she’s superior. Lust is the last one to come out and touches every sin before resting on the girl. She then takes the girl into “hell.” This clearly reflects the first scene, showing that everything is just a cycle, which strengthens the fact that everything is in her mind. The main difference from this last scene to the first scene was that the girl had the box in the first scene. This bluntly shows how she has no hope now as the sins consumed her completely.
The sins then leave and while the music is still playing come out with the sign: “Please don’t misinterpret this piece.” We did this, just like Brecht’s idea of showing the audience that the piece is actually just a piece, as it strengthens that the piece has a meaning, and it is for the audience. The fact that the sins say don’t misinterpret is to tell the audience that the sins are not actually bad as they are human nature and are everywhere. This fact is strengthened as the girl disappears while the sins are still there. This is the final punch to the audience as first they thought that the sins are inside of the girl, but they are still there when the girl isn’t. This focuses on the dramatic element of roles and relationships: at first the audience thinks that the girl is the master and that the sins are the slaves, but actually, the roles are reversed.
February 20, 2013
The Shape of Things to Come is this years IGCSE devised stimulus that we need to write about in our exams. Here are two questions about this piece that I will talk about:
Briefly summarise your ideas for a piece based on THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME and discuss how you would approach performing the piece for an audience – from ideas to stage.
My group and I devised a piece about a man who realizes he has a terminal disease so he does not do anything as he believes there is no point. To me, this reflects the phrase “the shape of things to come,” as it looks at the theme of how people need to have the initiative and need to do something in order to have a fulfilling life, and how people should have a fulfilling life as their main goal even if they understand what might happen. It also looks at how the things you do lead to a chain reaction and it also looks at the theme of life goes on even if something terrible happens. First, we approached performing this piece by highlighting the most important words of the phrase, which was “shape,” “things,” and “come.” Then we wrote these three words onto three separate pieces of paper, and we wrote what words came into our heads about these words. For example for “shape” people wrote down different kinds of shapes as well as writing “mould” as another meaning for shape is to “mould.” We then bounced ideas off of each other until we decided on our piece by adding some good ideas together. This approach worked really well as we had our idea under the 20% amount of time suggested, so we could start rehearsing very early on in the making. For rehearsing, we just improvised and devised until we got something that everybody liked.
Name and explain at least two dramatic strategies or rehearsal techniques used in creating your piece based on THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME. How effective were they in conveying the message of the piece?
One dramatic strategy my group used was the use of captioning. The terminal disease diagnosed patient is sitting down on a chair, as the audience sees life happening without him. The people in the background one by one carry paper each with a word on it so it makes the sentence of how he thinks that he should just wait to die as the signs reflect his thoughts with, “What’s the point?” This is also a bit like thought tracking, but instead of the character saying it, he says it through captioning. This dramatic strategy I thought was very effective as the fact that other people that were living a life were holding it, strengthens that he doesn’t believe he should have a life like them as he secluded himself from them. This seclusion is highlighted through the dramatic strategy of minimal staging as he is the only one sitting in a chair in the center of the stage and nobody seems to notice this chair being in the middle of the street. Another dramatic strategy we used was chanting (two people saying the same thing at the same time). This was used whenever something that could change his life happened, two people would come up and chant, “don’t waste your time.” I thought this was effective as the audience can clearly understand the underlining meaning behind the words, as the diseased diagnosed patient is wasting his time by not doing anything. Even though the chanting chorus look at the incoming characters as if they are the patient themselves, the underlining meaning shows that the chanting people are his subconscious telling him not to waste his time as he would soon die. Soon this chanting chorus come and push the patient off of his chair symbolizing that he died without taking chances. This is also the final connection to the image of being moulded as the chorus that pushes him off of the chair is the same chorus who placed him on the chair and shaped him, referring back to the stimulus with the theme of no control, yet the possibilities of choosing your own destiny. The chorus then changes back into ordinary people minding their own business, living ordinary lives, showing how life goes on no matter what.
January 27, 2013
For the past few weeks, my drama class has been working on drama exercises which will help us explore and improve our characters and scenes. Here are some of the exercises:
This exercise is used during scenes, where suddenly in a scene the characters freeze and then one by one say what they are feeling in that particular moment. This will help actors explore and understand their charter’s feelings and relationships during this particular scene to help the believability of the scene/character as well. This will also help the characters understand their emotions/feelings towards other characters throughout the whole play to help the actor’s facial expressions and movements.
This exercise is used to explore their character’s personality and feelings by creating an alley of actors. The actor who wants to understand his character would walk through this alley expressionless, with the other actors throwing comments about the character at him or her. Soon, the actor walking through the conscience alley would use this new information to create his or her movements, facial expressions and figure. Not only can actors do this exercise based on the character as a whole, actors can do this exercise based on a the character in a scene to make his feelings/movements more specific in that scene. This is a very good exercise to use as it gives an opportunity for actors to understand what other actors think of his/her character. This could help as the actor could miss a trait of his character that another actor didn’t miss.
Hot seating is when an actor sits on a chair in their character, while answering questions by other actors about their character. This helps actors understand their character very well, as the questions asked would be random and sometime really hard to respond to, and the actor has to respond in their character. This exercise is also very helpful for the questions give an opportunity for actors to expand their characters from beyond the play, giving their character more depth to make a more believable character.
Cross-cutting is when actors act to a re-ordered series of linear scenes. Sometimes, a play in a linear manner can be too predicable and boring. With cross-cutting actors can show moments in the past or they could even flash-forwards, which are also very enjoyable drama techniques for the audience. This could also support the characters, as this exercise give a more three dimensional character. This technique could also strengthen the tension as starting the show in the middle of the play will create un-known tension and will excite the audience for what led the characters to that scene as well as what would happen now.
Drama exercises can also consist of improve exercises. Placing an actor in unknown territory could make the actor do something in character from beyond the script which could help the actor explore the character’s traits and habits further. Improvising can also help actors not stress when things go wrong in plays (forgotten lines, missed cues ets.) and help them approach these problems in a logical way while still in character. One example of an improve exercise is improvising a scene all on the floor. This exercise will help actors appreciate the use of facial expressions and make actors use these expressions more as their bodies can not move naturally. In rehearsals it will also give actors more understanding of their stage/stage presence as they are placed in a new perspective on the stage. This exercise will also force actors to use the dramatic element of space better, as being on the floor, people will need to move in new and humorous ways, while still rehearsing.
December 9, 2012
I decided to promot Douglas Adam’s book of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It is a very funny and light-hearted book, and is very good if you just want to relaxe with a not so serious book. Also if you like sci-fi you probably will like it too.
This is my Shelfari Shelf:
November 30, 2012
Josho no Kanata is a koto piece written by Hikaru Sawai. The piece has three parts: koto 1, koto 2, and base koto, yet I believe this piece sounds the best when there is an ensemble playing it. This is because the many kotos will create very powerful sounds at some parts and still play quietly which will create a nice contrast. This piece is also broken down into two movements, that have completely different sounds and feelings. Hikaru Sawai, a famous koto player and composer, is the son of Tadao and Kazue Sawai, who are both skilled koto players and composers as well. As well as playing and composing on the koto, Hikaru Sawai is also a metal guitarist. Because of this, you can hear metal techniques, rhythm and scale in this piece. The title, ‘上昇の彼方’ (josho no kanata) means ‘Beyond the ascent.’ This related to the music because this piece has a very unique melody, and timbre and the two different movements contrast spectacularly, showing that this piece is very beyond the bounds of typical music, and how it breaks the koto stereotype as well. Also, this piece gets more and more intense and climatic as it progresses through the first movement and into the second movement. The rise in intensity shows how this piece is ascending and climbing and finally after the piece is done, the climb is over. The different dynamics, timbre and melody shows that the climb has lots of different and also similar obstacles to overcome, yet the climb with finish in the end. That is what I think Sawai is trying to tell his listeners.
The very first movement has a very mysterious and magical feeling. This feeling is strengthened by the texture of how the first and second koto are very similar yet are just slightly different in their rhythm and tune. The base koto comes in giving a nice deep base, which makes the kotos seem even more similar as they are playing with the same base notes. Also, this beginning melody is very smooth and flowing as it always has a nice crescendo and decrescendo which makes it soft and smooth. The whole first movement’s melody, not just the beginning, is in a way smooth at the meter never changes from 4/4. When the base kotos come in, this beginning accents as it has a new and importantly deep sound. Also at the very end of this introduction all kotos crescendo to the big base koto’s 8,11,5,11 … bit. This clearly shows how the piece is ascending, which strengthens the symbolism of how the piece is about a climb. The fact that most of these beginning notes are pizzicato, makes the beginning even more magical and smooth. The next part of the first movement, suddenly changes from being very smooth and quiet to loud yet still flowing. This part starts loud but then suddenly changes to mp, while playing the same thing, then crescendo back into ff. This strengthens the smooth ascending melody of the piece as well as how this fast change in dynamics surprises the listener. Also the timbre changes drastically in this section, as before it was magical and mysterious because of the pizzicato, the kotos suddenly change to have the technique of ato-oshi. This technique gives off very sharp and quick sounds, which contrasts to before. This changes the feeling and the mood of the piece to become more powerful, yet as the ato-oshi has a very distinct and unusual sound, still has that magical and mysterious feel to it as well, as the koto parts are still similar in their texture. After this section there is a transition measure when the base koto use the technique of awase. The melody for this is very ascending as the base koto sound gets higher and higher, which increases the tension for the audience. The fact that the ascending tones are deeper and louder than normal, strengthens the ascending melody. Also, the fact that this measure is used as a transition, strengthens the smoothness of the melody, as it doesn’t suddenly jump to a new section. This helps the mysterious and magical feel to the piece. The next section suddenly comes and like every other part, there are really fast crescendos and decrescendos making a nice flowing melody and the the koto parts also fit really nicely as they play similar parts just a bit delayed. Also, after the base koto finish their bits, the 13 sting koto seems to continue the base koto’s part with their 6, 8, 10, 11, 10, 8, 7. 6 … Also just like the ato-oshi the koto’s use a sharp and fast technique for playing to increase the power of the magical feeling. Right after this part, the melody suddenly jumps and gets quieter as all the kotos use the techniques: pizzicato and awase. This sudden change in dynamics actually descends the melody a bit. The melody then flows with the crescendos and the decrescendo. The koto parts are also very similar and it seems that they are just a beat off. For the whole section it is like the two parts playing with each other. This happy, up-beat feeling contrasts with the quietness of the pizzicato. The fact that only two koto parts play, then another one replaces the 17-string koto strengthens the fact that the kotos are playing with each other. The melody also ascends because of this as the base koto is replaced with a higher sounding koto, hence the dark, deep sounds are gone. This also makes the melody and the texture seem more up-beat and playful, which strengthens the ascending melody, not only because it has a crescendo. After this section, the piece repeats fron the ato-oshi bit. The reason I feel Sawai repeats this bit, is because the message of this piece is about the process of going beyond the climb. The repeat symbolizes how sometimes to achieve what you want you have to go back and try again. Also, the repeat makes the listener secure and feel safe as they already heard it before. They will like knowing what will happen but they will also like anticipating the unexpected.